Faith: Tears of sorrow or tears of relief?

By R.A. Mathews

The haves and the have-nots.

My friend, whom l’ll call Bea, is furious with the have-nots, aka the unvaccinated. She repeats the overarching theme in the media and government: If everyone was vaccinated, the Delta variant would not spread.

But is that true?

In a recent Covid-19 outbreak in Massachusetts of roughly 500 people, three-quarters were vaccinated. Moreover, according to the CDC, the vaccinated carried as much of the virus in their noses as the unvaccinated — meaning all the infected could spread the virus.

Bea says, but it is worse for the unvaccinated. Not true in Massachusetts. Four of the five hospitalized were vaccinated.

Here’s the truth. There is no vaccine for the Delta variant. Both the vaccinated and the unvaccinated are getting it and spreading it.

Why then is there this ferocious anger toward the unvaccinated? Because it gives us a feeling that we could control the virus if everyone was vaccinated. We cannot control it.

The same with the mask mandate — wear one and you’ll be protected. The director of the University of Minnesota Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy said on CNN this week that cloth and paper masks do not prevent infection. Again, we cannot control it.

I told Bea she’s taking her eye off the ball.

Remember New York City in March of 2020? It looked like a ghost town. I recall a massive car dealership sign in a small city that read, “Lord, heal our nation.” It cited Scripture. Both believers and non-believers lifted their hearts in prayer. It was wonderful!

When the vaccine came, God was no longer needed — research will save us. We’re behaving exactly as the Jews did in Jerusalem in the sixth century B.C.

Remember, the Northern Kingdom of Israel was crushed by the Assyrians in 722 B.C.

Why? Because God was done.

“They despised His statutes … and they abandoned all the commandments of the Lord … and they burned their sons and daughters as offerings … and sold themselves to do evil …” 2 Kings 17:15-17

In the Southern Kingdom, the Prophet Isaiah said Assyria was coming for Jerusalem. And come they did. But Isaiah had convinced King Hezekiah to turn the Jews back to God. That’s what saved them.  Isaiah 36:1 – 37:38

A century passes and the Jews return to their evil ways. They believe God will never let His home, the temple, be destroyed. But the prophet Ezekiel says God no longer has a home — that it’s filled with evil.

The Babylonians capture Jerusalem, destroy the temple, and march the Jews away into captivity. God’s people ignored His warnings, believing Egypt would save them from Babylon.

Are we ignoring God’s warnings?

Focusing on the unvaccinated — when everyone is unvaccinated for the Delta variant and everyone can carry it — turns us away from why we’re in this mess. Does God have reason to be angry with us?

The Jews were in captivity for 70 years. King Cyrus, who believed in God, conquered the Babylonians and allowed the Jews  to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple. Here’s a touching scene from Scripture.

“When the builders laid the foundation of the temple … all the people gave a great shout of praise to the Lord … but many of the older priests and Levites and family heads, who had seen the former temple, wept aloud … while many others shouted for joy.” Ezra 3:10-12

The old men wept, seeing their temple returning. Tears of sorrow or tears of relief? Were they sad for not listening to God or grateful their punishment was over?

Evil runs rampant in this nation. Why shouldn’t we expect what happened to Jerusalem to happen here? Why shouldn’t we expect the same prophecy? “You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart … and I will bring you back to the place where I sent you into exile.” Jeremiah 29:13-14

God had to crush His people. Lamentations documents what happened.

We can prevent that if we choose the Lord and turn back to Him.

Whether those old men had tears of sadness or tears of relief, may that day never come to this nation — staring at what was. Only holiness will save us.


The Rev. Mathews (B.A., M.Div., J.D.) is a faith columnist, seminary graduate, and the author of both “Reaching to God” and “Emerald Coast.” Write to her at

Copyright © 2021 R.A. Mathews.  All rights reserved.